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Pop, a security guard at Paramount has told his son that he's the head of the studio. When his son arrives in Hollywood on shore leave with his buddies, Pop enlists the aid of the studio's dizzy switchboard operator in pulling off the charade. Things get more complicated when Pop agrees to put together a show for the Navy starring Paramount's top contract players. Written by
Daniel Bubbeo <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Betty Hutton, one of the nominal stars of Star Spangled Rhythm, was not just doing it for defense as in her number, but the whole studio was doing this All Star flag waver for the defense of the morale of the USA.
I can never resist one of these all star spectaculars and there's only one I would ever have given a bad review to, and this isn't the one. Everybody working on the Paramount lot got to do his bit for defense in this film, some bits being longer than others.
The nominal plot of this film has Betty Hutton as a switchboard girl at Paramount studios and Victor Moore, a former silent western star, now working as a security guard at the studio trying to convince Eddie Bracken and a bunch of his sailor buddies that Moore is really the head of the studio. For that they have to con and bamboozle Walter Abel who is a real studio executive out of his office and off the lot so they can do their masquerade uninterrupted.
Of course Bracken asks the inevitable, pop can you get all these stars down for a big Navy show, and the con has to continue. But all of this nonsense is just an excuse for some musical and comedy numbers by the Paramount players.
Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer wrote the score and out of it came two really big standards, That Old Black Magic which was nominated for Best Song that year, but lost to another Paramount film song, White Christmas and Hit the Road to Dreamland.
The latter was done as director Preston Sturges was playing himself and screening a musical number from his latest film. As the projector rolls on screen it's Dick Powell and Mary Martin on a Pullman car singing about finally hitting the hay after some romance. The scene is so well done I wish it was included as an integral part of a real film.
That Old Black Magic is sung by Johnny Johnson and danced by ballet star Vera Zorina. It was enormous hit that year, recorded by a flock of singers. Oddly enough not by Bing Crosby though he got to sing it in another film, Here Come the Waves.
Of course the finale is a wartime flag waving number with Bing Crosby singing Old Glory about the flag and the wonders of the country behind it. The number about the flag probably wouldn't fly today still and that's a pity.
It's even more of a pity that these musical extravaganzas are a thing of the past with the decline of the Hollywood studio system. Star Spangled Rhythm is one of the best of its kind.
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